Research-based teaching in higher education
A close relationship between research and teaching is considered to be a defining characteristic of higher education (Durning and Jenkins 2005; Trowler and Wareham 2008). Since research and teaching are two important activities within the same institution, and faculty are very often involved in both, the question about the relationship between the two is recurrent (Barnett, 2005).
The contemporary debate on the relationship between research and teaching is influenced by a strong movement in higher education to increase the research experience of students and by a strong focus on “research- based teaching” (Healey, Jenkins, & Lea, 2014; Zimbardi & Myatt, 2014). Currently in most European countries all types of higher education, also those that were traditionally more focused on teaching, are expected to offer research-based teaching to their students (Kyvik & Lepori, 2010).
The focus on research-based teaching is also visible in the literature. Qualitative studies concerning the relationship between research and teaching pertain to: (1) different ways in which students are confronted with research into their teaching (Verburgh, Schouteden, & Elen, 2013; Zimbardi & Myatt, 2014 ) or (2) teachers’ research conceptions (Griffioen, 2013; Hu, van der Rijst, van Veen, & Verloop, 2014). This focus on teachers’ research conceptions is based on the idea that conceptions determine behavior (Kember, 1997; Pajares, 1992) and by extension the idea that research conceptions determine teachers’ research-based teaching practices (Brew, 2003). The idea is plausible since similar research on the relationship between teachers’ teaching conceptions and teaching practices, revealed a close relationship between conceptions and practices (Kember & Kwan, 2000; Martin, Prosser, Trigwell, Ramsden, and Benjamin, 2000). However, while the literature suggests a close conceptual relationship between teachers’ research conceptions and their research-based teaching approaches, empirical support for this plausible idea is missing (Schouteden, Verburgh, & Elen, 2016).
Within this context and given the importance of research-based teaching we investigate the relationship between teachers’ research conceptions and their research-based teaching approaches in higher education. To shed a new light on the relationship between research conceptions and research-based teaching approaches this study explicitly takes the teaching context into account, by including, on the one hand, a new variable into this relationship, namely “contextualised research conceptions” and, on the other hand, by including program type.
Contextualised research conceptions
Whereas general research conceptions refer to teachers’ conceptions about (doing) research, teachers’ contextualised research conceptions refer to teachers’ conceptions about integrating research in their own teaching.
Similar to other countries (e.g., the Netherlands, Verhoeven, 2008) higher education programs in Belgium are either professional or academic. The distinction between professional and academic programs is part of the discussion about research-based teaching. Whereas professional programs focus on the preparation for a particular profession (Griffioen, 2013) and are organised in teaching-intensive institutions or university colleges, academic programs emphasize a broad academic and theoretical training and are provided by research-intensive institutions or universities.
Given the elements introduced above a conceptual model on the presumed relationship, at the level of the individual teacher, is elaborated. The model reflects three expectations. At first the absence of a close relationship between general and contextualised research conceptions of teachers is expected. A second expectation argues that the relationship between contextualised research conceptions and research-based teaching approaches is closer than the relationship between general research conceptions and research-based teaching approaches. A third expectation specifies that the program type affects the relationship between research conceptions and research-based teaching approaches.
Barnett, R. (2000). Realizing the university in an age of super-complexity. Buckingham: Open University Press. Brew, A. (2003). Teaching and research: New relationships and their implications for inquiry-based teaching and learning in higher education. Higher Education Research & Development, 22, 3-18. doi:10.1080/0729436032000056571 Durning, B., & Jenkins, A. (2005). Teaching/research relations in departments: The perspectives of built environment academics. Studies in Higher Education, 30, 407-426. doi:10.1080/03075070500160046 Griffioen, D. M. E. (2013). Research in higher professional education. A staff perspective. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Healey, M., Jenkins, A., & Lea, J. (2014). Developing research-based curricula in college-based higher education. York, UK: The Higher Education Academy. Retrieved from: http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/documents/heinfe/developing_research-based_curricula_in_cbhe_14.pdf Hu, Y., Van der Rijst, R. M., van Veen, K., & Verloop, N. (2014). “And never the two shall meet”? Comparing Chinese and Dutch university teachers about the role of research in teaching. Higher Education, 68, 607-622. doi: 10.1007/s10734-014-9734-0 Kember, D. (1997). A reconceptualisation of the research into university academics’ conceptions of teaching. Learning and Instruction, 7(3), 255-275. doi: 10.1016/S0959-4752(96)00028-X Kember, D., & Kwan, K.-P. (2000). Lecturers’ approaches to teaching and their relationship to conceptions of good teaching. Instructional Science, 28, 469-490. doi: 10.1023/A:1026569608656 Kyvik, S., & Lepori, B. (2010). Research in higher education institutions outside the university sector. In S. Kyvik & B. Lepori (Eds.), The research mission of higher education institutions outside the university sector (pp. 3-21). Dordrecht: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-1-4020-9244-2_1 Martin, E., Prosser, M., Trigwell, K., Ramsden, R., & Benjamin, J. (2000). What university teachers teach and how they teach it. Instructional Science, 28, 387-412. doi: 10.1023/A:1026559912774 Pajares, M. F. (1992). Teachers’ beliefs and educational research: Cleaning up a messy construct. Review of Educational Research, 62, 307-332. doi:10.3102/00346543062003307 Schouteden, W., Verburgh, A., Elen, J. (2016). Teachers’ general and contextualised research conceptions. Studies in Higher Education, 41, 79-94. doi:10.1080/03075079.2014.914915 Trowler, P. & Wareham, T. (2008). Tribes, territories, research and teaching. Enhancing the teaching-research nexus. York, UK: The higher education Academy. Verburgh, A., Schouteden, W., Elen, J. (2013). Patterns in the prevalence of research-related goals in higher education programmes. Teaching in Higher Education, 18, doi:10.1080/13562517.2012.719153, 298-310. Zimbardi, K., & Myatt, P. (2014). Embedding undergraduate research experiences within the curriculum: a cross-disciplinary study of the key characteristics guiding implementation. Studies in Higher Education, 39, 233-250. doi:10.1080/03075079.2011.651448
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